“Eat right and exercise”: amid the cacophony of diet fads and aids, conflicting reports regarding what causes obesity, and debate about whether and what kind of fat might be good for us after all, this seems like pretty sound and refreshingly simple advice. On the surface, it is: it’s hard to argue against good nutrition or circulation. But dig a bit deeper and it’s a veritable political and cultural minefield.
In recent years, a new and surprising idea has emerged suggesting that coups d’état may actually be a force for democracy. The argument is surprising because coups have historically been associated with the rise of long-lasting and often brutal dictatorial regimes. During the Cold War, coups brought Suharto to power in Indonesia, military rule to Egypt, Pinochet to power in Chile, and allowed Hafez al-Assad to consolidate rule in Syria.
The 2016 battle for the White House has been contentious and historical. Someone new will be occupying the White House come January, and who exactly it will be is still up in the air.
The cerebellum is an intriguing part of our brain. Its name is the diminutive form of cerebrum, so literally means ‘little brain’. It is true that, in humans, it occupies just 10% of the brain volume, yet recent research shows it accounts for approximately 80% of the nerve cells; a complex network of approximately 69 billion neurons! Why does the ‘little brain’ contain such a disproportionate number of neurons?
About twenty-five years ago, politics changed in Africa. For years, rulers had manipulated the economy by doing things like creating artificial shortages and restricting import licenses. These tactics were useful to rulers, because they could dole out prized business licenses to reward supporters and consolidate power. But around 1990, many rulers were forced to relinquish these tools.
Some good ideas take a long time to gain acceptance. When Adam Smith argued forcefully against tariffs in his 1776 classic The Wealth of Nations, he was very much in the minority among thinkers and policy-makers. Today, the vast majority of economists agree with Smith and most countries officially support free trade. Index investing, sometimes called “passive investing,” has taken somewhat less time to gain acceptance.
The challenges of governing have rarely been greater. The distance between the parties in Congress and between identifiers with the parties among the public is the greatest in a century. The public accords Congress the lowest approval ratings in modern history, but activists allow its members little leeway to compromise. The inability of Congress and the president to resolve critical problems results in constant crises in financing the government, endless debate over immigration, health care, environmental protection, and other crucial issues, and a failure to plan effectively for the future.
What role, then, might evidence play in policy development around health inequalities? Perhaps it’s time to move beyond the idea of evidence-based policy to start focusing on how different kinds of actors employ evidence in policy debates. This includes understanding how interests that can run counter to public health, such as unhealthy commodity producers like the tobacco industry, engage with policy debates about health inequalities.
It is now a year since it was announced that Universities UK would be establishing a taskforce on the problem of sexual violence in higher education. At its first meeting it widened its remit to also include the (much) broader issue of hate crime affecting students, but promised to maintain a particular focus on violence against women and sexual harassment. The taskforce intended to consider the current evidence, any ongoing work, and what more needs to be done.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is everywhere. Corporate-connected activists have branded breast cancer as pink—feminine, hopeful, and uncontroversial. They worked with businesses to sponsor walks and runs and to create cause-marketing products (like the bagels) to raise awareness of and money for breast cancer. These messages have changed the way Americans think about breast cancer.
The UK’s retail sector is going to be a particularly sensitive indicator of the effects of the Brexit referendum decision. Retailers, whether they are store-based, online or both, are intermediaries at the end of the value chain – and as such are very close to both consumers and suppliers – so they’ll be at the receiving end of Brexit effects in other sectors ranging from agriculture to car production to financial services.
The internet is arguably the most important invention in recent history. To recognize its importance, World Internet Day is celebrated each year on October 29, the date on which the first electronic message was transferred from one computer to another in 1969. At that time, a UCLA student programmer named Charley Kline was working under the supervision of his professor Leonard Klinerock, and transferred a message from a computer housed at UCLA to one at Stanford.
Rarely has there been a time in which military justice has loomed so large, or in such diverse ways. Certainly at any given time there are likely to be one or two high profile cases around the world, but lately it has seemed that the subject is never long out of the public eye. Consider the following kinds of issues: A Russian soldier stationed in Armenia murders a local family. Who should prosecute him for the murder, Russia or Armenia?
We continue our reflection on 2016 with a more in depth look at the nominees for Place of the Year. Previously, we introduced our readers to the nominees simply as a list. Now, we’d like to go a bit more in-depth with each of the nominees.
At first glance, it may seem a dizzyingly impenetrable subject matter, but Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström’s contributions to ‘contract theory’ have revolutionized the study of economics. They have recently been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, with the presentation committee noting how their pioneering analysis laid the “intellectual foundation for designing policies and institutions in many areas, from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions.”
Einstein’s scientific achievements are well known even if not widely understood by non-scientists. He bestrode the twentieth century like a colossus and physicists are still working through his legacy. Besides, the theory of relativity penetrated far beyond science into many areas of literature and the arts. If hard to measure, evidence of his cultural influence is unmistakable.